A Sudden Change in Plans

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Where’s Mommy?

Last Thursday I went to my volunteer job at the hospital, but I never made it home.

Two months ago I had a surgery to remove a 7 year old central line catheter from the right side of my chest that had gotten clotted. Shortly thereafter I had a second surgery to have a new one put in on the left side. They were miserable surgeries because the hospital no longer uses anesthesia for these procedures. I’ve had 4 catheters put in since 2005, and I’ve always been put to sleep for the surgery, so when I learned, on the operating table, that I would be awake, I panicked. What made it really scary was that they covered my face with a heavy, sterile blanket, and I was sure I’d suffocate. I wanted to jump off the table and run screaming from the room, but I needed a catheter for my monthly IVIG infusions, so I resisted the urge. The old catheter was removed and I bravely returned to have the new one put in.

This past Wednesday, as I was changing the bandage on my new catheter, I noticed it was a little red. I cocked my head and squinted my eyes, hoping that would make it look less red. It didn’t work. Should I be worried? Nah. I pulled the neck of my shirt down one more time before leaving the bathroom and looked again. Was is remarkably red? Nah, you’re just overreacting, I assured myself.

When my home health nurse came the next day, I showed her the redness, convinced she would say it looked fine and I could go about my business. It couldn’t possibly be infected. If it were, I’d have a fever and feel crappy. In 2010 I got sepsis from a catheter and I remember how terribly sick I was, and all I was feeling now was some dizziness and nausea.

I peeled off the bandage to show my nurse. “Oh, that’s red. Keep an eye on it,” she warned. Her concern surprised and disappointed me. I wanted her to tell me it looked fine. Darn it. Now I was worried. But I had to get to my volunteer job at the hospital so I tucked my worry away for a few hours.

As I finished my shift, my worry returned. Why don’t I just ask a doctor since I’m here at the hospital? I went to the ER, hoping a doctor would take one look and say my catheter looked fine, but that’s not what happened. The doctor looked, then told the nurse to start an IV on me for antibiotics. What? Wait, if I have an IV, I can’t go home.

“Please change into this hospital gown so we can get your IV started.” The nurse ordered. I very reluctantly took off my volunteer uniform and put on the gown.

The doctor came back in and took a phone photo of my red catheter and sent it to the infectious disease doctor. He texted right back, recommending a broad spectrum antibiotic.

“How long will I need this?” I asked, feeling trapped.

“Until the infection is gone.” The doctor said, as though I should understand the gravity of the situation.

“Will it be possible for me to get these infusions at home with a visiting nurse?” I wanted to go home.

“Not until we see that the infection is subsiding,” she explained. How long would that take? Hours? Days? Weeks? When I had sepsis I was on IV antibiotics for six weeks!

Just an hour earlier I was on my way home and now I was hospitalized. I wanted to just get up and leave before the nurse set the IV, but I sat there, stared at the curtain directly in front of me and took some deep breaths. Just stay. I told myself. This was not how I planned to spend the afternoon, but I was here for a reason. Being in the hospital won’t be all bad.

A few hours later I was wheeled to a room on the seventh floor. I was pleased to see it was a private room. I’m sure my crummy immune system bought me that luxury. Except for all the tubes running into my arms, which restricted my mobility, I was okay. The nurses noticed my volunteer uniform draped over the chair next to bed and treated me like a member of their family, so I felt a little like I was home.

The next day a doctor came into my room and explained that an infection in or around a central line catheter can become  life-threatening within 24-48 hours, and that I was lucky it was caught this early. He said I would receive IV antibiotic until all the results came in from the blood cultures taken in the ER. I still had no idea how long my stay was going to be.

Being abruptly removed from my normal routine was hard for me. In the past few years I’ve lost my ability to adapt to changes in routine. This change initially filled me with fear and panic, but I was able to calm myself by writing, talking to friends and family, and pretending I was in a hotel at a spa-resort. My ability to play “make-believe” is pretty good, probably because I’ve never really grown up. In the last four days I’ve felt moments of acceptance and peace. Is this God’s way of showing me I’m not as inflexible as I fear?

Hopefully the doctor will decide that I can go home today. I will have to continue the IV antibiotics at home for a while, but I don’t mind. Giving up my freedom and quieting my panic about being trapped for the past four days suddenly seems like a small price to pay to keep this infection from killing me. Once again I get this feeling that someone upstairs is looking out for me.


28 thoughts on “A Sudden Change in Plans

  1. Hey Martha I’m a believer in Jesus Christ and I can tell you He has a plan, He tells us in His word.

    Romans 8:28
    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose

    We may not always see the good in things but He sees the big picture we just see the here and now.

    Praying for you

  2. Dear Martha,

    Oh my goodness! You can write your blog from your hospital bed…..including a photo!!!! I suspect it feels like you are making good use of your time…..congratulations!!!! I hope this finds you home today and as comfortable as possible. Am anxious to hear….. Much love, Mom

    Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks Mom. Just waiting for the doctor who said yesterday I should be able to go home today.
      Trying to do things to fill my time! They let me walk my IV pole around the ward, but I want to be a walking a dog around the block at home!

  3. ❤️ Been thinking about you, and now I see this. You’re in my thoughts & prayers, Martha.😘 I hope you’re home today, or soon— don’t rush it though. You need to feel better. The photos of your furry kids faces look worried. ❤️

      • If you’re a lit’l bored while you’re healing/recuperating at the H and up for playing word-with-friends😉😁 we can play (just-thought-of-this). *Smiles* Sending 🙏❤️ to you!🤘😘 🙏for a speedy recovery!❤️

  4. Things certainly work in mysterious ways – I have been thinking about you for the past several days wondering about you, how the book is doing, and about to ask ‘Henry’ questions. Then, while waiting for a timed event at home, I checked my email and there was your story. You are an amazing writer – the picture is so clear with your descriptions, your comments and your good/bad thoughts. Now — thank you for bringing all of us up to date, but know that everyone who knows your or knows of you has special prayers going upwards and bouncing back on you. Hugs surround you, love is coming your way from north/south/east/west and best of all with all of us thinking about you – we know good news is coming your way. Hugs to Don, Henry and you.
    Linda Simon

  5. OH, my goodness Martha! I hope you can go home today. I know that being in the hospital can be depressing but as long as you can write ti will keep you busy and you can document your experience while there. Here’s to finder crossed that you will be home to finish your IV treatments. Be well my dear friend.

    • Thank you Nancy. I know that you know this experience too well. I’m glad I can write and talk to friends, but it’s hard to find a comfortable way to do all this in the hospital bed! I keep getting out and sitting in the chairs, but my tubing gets all tangled. I hope I get to go home before I get too skilled at negotiating IV tubes.

  6. Oh Martha, I am so sorry your plans for this past week were interrupted. Glad to hear you are being treated like one of the family there. Poor Henry and all your other animals must be beside themselves wondering where you are. Have you at least been able to Facetime or talk on the phone to reassure them. I will continue prayers for a quick recovery and an ever quicker release to go home.

    • Thank you Sheila. I miss my husband and animal children so much, but have to trust the doctors. Yesterday I was really disappointed when the doctors said I had to stay another day, but my husband came to visit and I felt better. Today, Monday, the main infectious disease doctor will see me and hopefully discharge me. I will be on antibiotics at home for awhile, and I’m hoping they can be oral instead of IV, but I’ll be compliant either way.
      I hope you and your family are well. Take care. Love, Martha

  7. OH, MARTHA! Sending numerous GENTLE hugs and loving thoughts……I know you’re disappointed but, WE are all glad that you’re in the right place! XOXO

    • Thank you Pam. I’m hoping to be discharged today, Monday. The main infectious disease doctor will be here this afternoon and he’ll know what’s best for me. I sure miss my fuzzy children! I miss the feathery and scaly ones too, but they don’t really know I’m gone!

    • Thank you Jo-Ann. I got to come home last night, but will have IV antibiotics at home for 10 days. It’s still better than being stuck in the hospital. It was so good to hug my pups again. Once again I feel so lucky(blessed) that it wasn’t worse. Whew! I hope you are doing well.

  8. Yay👍 great news you’re home… But the length of time you’re on antibiotics, please take it easy/slow (just 10 days). Your friends will still be here, and I’m still sharing about your book & giveaway. ✌️🙏❤️😘😊

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